Please be assured that I am well aware of what a significant issue this is locally with many of my constituents working at London Luton Airport. I have kept in close touch with London Luton Airport throughout the pandemic and will continue to do everything I can to assist them.
I also understand that the coronavirus pandemic has had a particularly detrimental effect on the aviation industry, and I sympathise greatly with any aviation sector employee who has faced uncertainty or redundancy. I want to be clear that the Government recognises the importance of the aviation sector to the UK economy, and the effect that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the industry. I am pleased that the hard work and sacrifices of the British people have allowed us to make enormous progress in tackling this pandemic, making a number of changes to further progress the safe restart of international travel going forward, the Government is keen to work with the aviation sector for a stable and sustainable recovery.
I am pleased that the Government provided an unprecedented package of support, helping businesses to retain staff and reduce the need for redundancies. However, the furlough scheme was a temporary, economy-wide measure designed to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. I welcomed the several extensions to furlough, including the final extension to the end of September, which achieved the right balance between supporting the economy as it opened up, and continuing to provide support and protect incomes. This ensured that incentives were in place to get people back to work as demand returned.
I do understand, however, that the loss of some jobs within the aviation industry due to the coronavirus pandemic may have, unfortunately been inevitable, but companies who decide to make employees redundant should do so with fairness. The Government supports those affected, with the Department for Work and Pensions available to help employees identify and access the support that is available. Further information on redundancy rights can be found at:
More broadly, a Tourism Recovery Plan was published in June to help the sector recover and build back better for the future. The plan aims to recover international tourism to pre pandemic levels by 2023; a year faster than independent forecasts predict.
Whilst no bespoke financial packages for the aviation and tourism sectors are available, the Government estimates that, in total, as of the end of April 2021, the air transport sector has benefited from around £7 billion of Government support since the start of the pandemic. The extension of Government-backed loans and furlough payments announced in the Spring budget built on this and have helped to ensure this sector of the economy is in a position to bounce back after the pandemic.
Finally, I deeply sympathise with the travel industry as I know it has had an incredibly difficult 18 months, especially given that tourism was one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic. I am aware that that there were calls to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) scheme beyond September for the travel industry. In my view, the final extension to the CJRS to the end of September achieved the right balance between supporting the economy as it opened up and continuing to provide support and protect incomes. This ensured that incentives were in place to get people back to work as demand returned.